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Calgary Family Law Blog

Family law: Separation agreements beneficial in divorce situation

Some relationships end. It's a fact of life, and how the couple chooses to move forward depends entirely upon them. However, family law in Canada makes provisions for these types of situations, and one of those is a separation agreement. This document is a contract stipulating how the divorcing couple will treat their matrimonial home and how they will divide assets including property.

The agreement, which is drawn up when the marriage or partnership ends, can also contain other pertinent information such as who will pay child and/or spousal support and how much. It can also cover how child custody will be handled and visitation rights for the non-custodial parent in the event of non joint custody. To be binding, a separation agreement must be signed by both parties and witnessed. These agreements are best suited to situations where the divorce is relatively amicable. No one should be coerced into signing one, and if the relationship is abusive, a separation agreement may not be a wise idea.

Family law in Alberta: Does divorce need to happen in court?

As the old song goes, breaking up is hard to do. It would be even harder if the couple getting a divorce had to attend court sessions. That is not the case today in Alberta thanks to provisions in family law in Canada.

Divorce is connected to family law, though if cases do head to court, they aren't heard by a family law judge. The Divorce Act in Canada is under the jurisdiction of the federal government. Divorces, therefore, are heard in federal court. In Alberta, that means the Court of Queen's Bench. 

Family law in Canada: Access for noncustodial parents

Most every parent has the right to spend time with his or her child. If parents don't share joint custody of their children after they divorce, the noncustodial parent typically has the right to see their kids or to have access to them as stipulated by family law in Canada. Access, as granted by the courts or spelled out in a parenting plan, also gives the parent the right to be informed about their children's lives.

If the parents have an amenable relationship regarding their children, then they can probably work out what reasonable access looks like and come to an agreement regarding a parenting plan. These kinds of arrangements can evolve as life circumstance change. If parents can't agree, a judge might have to decide for them,  but rarely does a judge deny a parent access to his or her children. If the judge believes the child may be put in harm's way by spending time with a parent, supervised access is usually ordered.

Family law in Canada: Adopting a non-Canadian child

Adopting a child from abroad is a choice available to Canadians, but it's not always an easy process. Not only will individuals have to deal with family law concerns in Canada, but they will also have to adhere to any international laws that are in place. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will also be involved when it's time for the child to come to Canada. Adoptive parents of international children must also be aware of any legalities in their respective provinces or territories.

Canada adheres to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention) and its compliance is overseen by CIC. The Hague Adoption Convention sets out a strict set of rules regarding the intercountry adoption of children. Firstly, the adoption has to be legal in the countries involved; it must be proved that intercountry adoption is best for the child, with authorities in both countries agreeing and the intended parents must be able to provide for the child. The child must also be given the necessary permissions to permanently live in Canada.

High asset divorce in Canada: Keep it out of the court system

Couples who have decided to divorce and who have healthy bank accounts and portfolios, including property and other assets, are advised by experts to stay out of the court system. High asset divorce in Canada could be a costly endeavour.  However, making decisions through direct negotiation or mediation would be the wisest route to take not only to minimize the financial impact of the divorce but to keep control over the situation.

Once in the courts, decisions will be made for the couple and not by them. It is not only time-consuming, but expensive. Disagreements over property values can be solved by simply calling in an appraiser who will provide market value. This way only the most contentious cases will need to be litigated. 

Family law: New way of parenting may challenge rules in Canada

There is a relatively new way of raising children that's gaining in popularity. Two people, who are not a romantic couple, team up to raise a child together, yet live apart. This type of unconventional situation may change some family law rules in Canada as it evolves.

People are meeting in person after they connect on a social media site for singles, looking to have a child and share in the child's upbringing together, yet without the dynamics of a conventional relationship. The idea is called elective co-parenting, and it has been popular with gay men and women. But it is beginning to gain in popularity among heterosexuals who want to have children in a co-parenting situation, but who aren't in romantic relationships. 

Canada family law: Don't give courts a reason to refuse a divorce

There is nothing that says married couples who aren't getting along or who have grown apart need to divorce.  But if a couple in Canada does make that decision, they would be wise to do everything they need to when it pertains to divorce under the family law umbrella, and not give the courts any reason to deny the request.  A couple can separate without getting a divorce -- they simply have to live apart.

When a married couple separates and have been living in a matrimonial home, they both have a right to stay in the home or claim their share in it. If one partner moves out, it doesn't mean he or she gives up the home. Even when the couple gets divorced and one partner wasn't on title, he or she still has the right to claim his or her share in a matrimonial home.


In Alberta, freedom of "Testator Intention" with respect to inclusion or exclusion of potential beneficiaries from one's will, has been overlaid with the right of a family member for whom provision has not been made to apply for Family Maintenance and Support. If successful, the claim will be paid out of the Deceased's estate. This leads to a couple of questions. First, who qualifies as a "family member"? Second, what exactly is Family Maintenance and Support?

Canada divorce mediation making separating more amicable

Splitting in splendour. It seems these days divorce mediation is helping couples who are breaking up to do it with less anxiety, anger and stress. Indeed, some divorce situations in Canada appear not only to be amicable, but joyful, with the former couple remaining friends. These scenarios are becoming increasingly more prevalent and are especially healthy for any children involved.

Some people who fall out of love can still care deeply for each other. They can also still lovingly co-parent their children. The numbers of former couples who have gone through amicable divorces has been increasing over the last 10 years or so. Collaborative divorce strives to put negative emotions on the back burner for the sake of the spouses and for the children. The process has been labelled conscious uncoupling.

Family law in Canada: Child custody changes as kids get older

Life is busier than it has ever been. People have full schedules, but flexibility in those schedules when it comes to spending time with children goes a long way to help divorced parents maintain positive relationships with their kids. However, child custody parameters may change as kids get older, and some compromise may be needed when co-parenting. Parenting plans in Canada would be better as living documents -- changing and evolving as needs change and evolve.

Any divorce situation puts children first. And their needs are much different when they are young children than when they reach their teens. As kids get older, they might not want to spend every weekend with one parent if it takes them out of their social group, even in a shared custody situation. This is where communication is important between the ex spouses and their children.

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